Immigration Status a Pre-Existing Condition Under Healthcare Reform?

One of the very first provisions of national health care reform to take effect was a rule barring insurance companies from limiting or denying coverage for a child due to a “pre-existing condition,” a health problem that developed before the child applied for insurance. Now, some health care scholars and activists say it’s time to extend that principle to what they call another kind of pre-existing condition that makes children especially vulnerable: immigration status. Under national health care reform law, undocumented immigrants are barred from federal programs such as Medicaid and, in reform provisions scheduled to take effect in 2014, won’t be allowed to use their own money to buy into state-run health benefit exchanges offering insurance at more affordable prices. Legally documented immigrants who have been in the country less than five years also are locked out.

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